my job is making me travel and I hate it

A reader writes:

I am an engineer in research and development at a medium sized international company. When I was hired 8 years ago, I spent most of my time in the lab. As our department was downsized over the last several years, I have been required to spend more and more time in the field implementing new developments (locations all over the world). I was not asked about whether I wanted this transition or not. Trips have averaged about 1 week every 2 months. There are only four engineers in my group and most of them travel as much or more than me.

Here is my problem: I hate to travel. Actually “hate” is probably not the right world. I absolutely dread traveling and almost have a panic attack every time I have to get on that plane, can’t sleep for a week leading up to the trip, etc., but I have been able to control it when traveling at this frequency. Recently I was assigned to a project that will be installed in China. I did not ask for that assignment and was not asked if I wanted to accept that assignment. This means in a few months, I am anticipating at least one 3-week trip to China. Although it has not been discussed, I think that I would likely have to go on many more trips to China over the next year for at least that long. I cannot do that!

I don’t know how to explain this to my manager without making it appear to be a threat of quitting. I just cannot do this and if this is what is required I will have to quit for my own sanity. Please do not tell me I am being irrational. I am a scientist. I know I am irrational, but I just cannot change the way I feel. How can I have this discussion, or should I just look for another job and quit? I like the other parts of my job very well and have gotten good reviews every year.

You need to talk to your manager. Lots of people don’t travel for lots of reason — kids at home, other family commitments, dislike of it, etc. It’s why, if a job involves significant travel, employers generally talk about it as part of the interview process. In your case, your job changed but the travel hasn’t been discussed … probably because they’re assuming that you’ll bring it up if it’s an issue. If you don’t bring it up, they’ll assume you’re fine with it. So you need to raise this.

It’s up to you whether or not you want to explain that you have panic and anxiety issues related to travel. If you’d rather not get into that, you can always say that you have family commitments that make it impossible for you to continue traveling. If your boss is insistent that you must do it anyway, then you have to decide what you want to do with that information. If you really don’t want the job if it involves the travel, then you proceed accordingly.

But it’s so not at that point yet, because your boss doesn’t even know. Talk to her and explain you can’t travel. That’s your starting point.

{ 63 comments… read them below }

  1. AD*

    I would try to approach the manager with some ideas on how this could possibly be fixed, as well. Can you take shorter trips, and/or combine several customers into a single trip? Is there someone else in your group who would prefer more travel? Is there more that could be done remotely using crazy newfangled technology like Skype (and if this is the case, you can play up the cost savings that would be involved)?

    I am always wary of going to a manager with just a problem, and no suggested solution. While I realize that the company has potentially pulled a bait-and-switch on this guy, just raising the problem doesn’t solve anything.

    1. Anonymous*

      Just a side note: Some countries do not use social media tools or similar items, like Skype. China, which the OP is a part of, definitely falls into the category of Facebook prohibition and a lot of monitoring of the internet. So it may not always be possible to “travel” in that way.

      1. AD*

        Right, tech infrastructure can be a problem, and even time zones, but certainly people still have the ability to communicate without actually going to China.

      2. Rose*

        My husband and I live in China and he uses Skype and conference calls almost everyday with overseas customers. There are many ways to get around the Great Firewall of China (as this blog is blocked in China :D)

    2. Simon*

      I really dislike this line of thinking that has become increasingly commonplace.

      Surely a manager’s job is to ‘manage’ and be able to solve problems like this? Why should the onus be on staff to be able to resolve every situation?

  2. Anonymous*

    I hate travel for a completely different reason: I cannot tolerate the indignities inflicted on us under the guise of “airport security.”

    I don’t think it needs to be explained that the type of contact these goons are permitted to make with our bodies would under any other circumstances be considered sexual harrassment or even a crime.

    Thankfully, my present job does not require travel. I dread the possibility that some day it might. Any advice as to how I could approach this situation if it ever happens?

    1. KellyK*

      Unfortunately, there’s not much way to avoid that other than traveling by other means than flying. I will say that I was really worried about the backscatter x-ray and the “enhanced” pat-down when I traveled out of the country last fall and wasn’t subjected to either. I’m not sure if the specific airport didn’t have them yet, or if they just don’t always send everyone through.

      For shortish trips, you can drive instead of flying, and train or bus travel might also be an option in some cases. (Usually train is more expensive than flight, so if it’s for work, expect to be paying the difference.)

      1. Rana*

        I tend to find trains cheaper, at least to major cities. But the cost comes in how long the trips take. (Oh, how I wish we had high speed rail!)

        1. Elizabeth*

          Going by train is cheaper if it’s short (e.g. Boston to Washington DC) but not if it’s a long trip (e.g. San Francisco to Boston). A train from SF to Boston and back costs $582; a plane costs $547 – and the train is three and a half days each way.

      2. Emily*

        My company has a very progressive sustainability initiative and encourages us to take environmental impact into account when pricing our travel. If not for the carbon footprint factor leaning in favor of train travel, I might never have discovered how much fun it can be!

    2. Anonymous*

      Unfortunately, the time and era we are now living in has brought us to this point. I personally think that those who have problems with this shouldn’t just be complaining but come up with a solution that will keep travelers safe…or at the very least write to those who are more in the midst of being able to do something to change it.

      1. The Right Side*

        I hate airports, too, so I drive everywhere. Cross country trips are no biggie! I can drive from LA to STL in 24 hrs straight… I truly enjoy the trip! I absolutely have huge crowd anxiety and refuse to fly. The lines, the people, the lines, the “security”, the lines, the waiting – no thanks! I need freedom!

        1. Anonymous*

          Ok, but try driving to China!

          But if you do need a laugh, google directions to China, and it’ll literally tell you to jet ski across the Pacific!

          1. NJB*

            How funny! I did not believe google directions would do that until I tried it. I was laughing so loud everyone in the office is trying it for themselves! Productivity just went to hell.

            1. PJDJ*

              If you think that’s funny, ask for Walking Directions from The Shire to Mordor…

              1. Anonymous*

                It told me to kayak, and no matter where on the west coast I start (including Tiajuana, Mexico), it tells me to go to Seattle and kayak to Hawaii.

              2. Anonymous*

                @Anonymous at 5:49:

                If you go to China, it’ll tell you to jet ski from Japan to China. Like I said above, it depends on how far you go (and it still says Pacific Ocean when it says Jet ski). It’s still funny as hell!

    3. Andrea*

      I loved flying when I was a kid. But the last time I flew was in 2004 and I NEVER will again for these exact reasons. So yeah, I understand wanting to avoid it.

    4. Long Time Admin*

      My family name is of German origin, but it’s spelled like a common Muslim name. I won’t fly unless it’s life-or-death.

      I’m an overweight, middle-aged, white-haired Caucasian woman. Yeah, I’m a real threat. Fear me.

    5. Vicki*

      I do not travel. These days, I rarely even travel overnight for “pleasure”. t’s not pleasurable.

      Personally, if I am ever told “we need you to travel to Xyz” my response will be “No. I did not agree to travel when I took this job.”

      If the manager wants to fire me for that answer, so be it.

      I’m sorry that the OP was not upfront about this earlier, but it’s never too late to admit you made a mistake. OP – talk to your manager. Today. The longer you wait, the more difficult it gets.

  3. Dana*

    I agree with this advice. I’m not sure what your particular situation is, but there might be other people in your office who would really like to travel. Maybe they’ll be able to switch around some of your job duties to keep you in the office and let them do the traveling.

  4. fposte*

    I totally agree with Alison’s response, but I wanted to query from another point–OP, have you ever looked into treatment or medication for the anxiety? I’ve had a flying phobia for years (true panic-attack phobia, once left an airplane before it departed the gate); that was really going to kill my career, so I, after several false starts, found medication that made it a lot easier (and, in fact, it diminished the phobia over time) and have been able to travel as needed.

    I still think it’s worth seeing if you can cut back on the travel schedule for now, but it sounds like yours may be an industry where being able to travel can be a key component to rising in the field. And I think that you may have options beyond staying home or being sick with anxiety, so I hope that once you sort out the urgent situation you consider exploring those options.

    1. Malissa*

      Yes this is a good suggestion regardless of future travels plans. You never know when you’ll have to get on a plane to visit a sick relative.

  5. The Right Side*

    I understand you COMPLETELY OP! I do a lot of traveling but it is usually day trips – a few hours each way to the capital or something. I work in construction and need to see the site in the morning and be back in my office, several hours away, for work on other projects. I don’t mind driving but I don’t like to ride with other ppl – I get carsick and I’d prefer nobody ride with me. A) I smoke and don’t want to NOT smoke so I’d prefer not to have anyone else in my car so I can go about my business and B) It just makes for an awkwardly boring car ride! Especially since I’m a female and that “other” person is often an older man/superior. I’d rather not sit in stone cold silence – I can listen to music, catch up on calls, etc. But when I told my boss that I couldn’t ride with him somewhere – he was terribly offended. I explained that I get carsick and he didn’t believe me. Finally after HR talked to him (they viewed my carsickness as a disability of sorts and I can’t be punished for it) he asked if he could ride with me?! Ugh. Fortunately most trips I’m on my own but occasionally he wants to see what is going on and wants to ride. I hate it. HATE IT! I spend the days before letting my children run around outside with wet hair, tank tops (in 30 degree weather) just so I have a reason not to come to work those days!!! LOL (Totally kidding about the kid’s part but not kidding about the dread part) So, our situations aren’t exactly alike but I completely understand the anxiety. It makes me sick to my stomach. :-P

    1. Jamie*

      Fortunately I don’t have to travel for work at this point – but I’m with you 100% on wanting to drive alone. I don’t even like carpooling to local conferences, or lunch. Long distance would kill me.

      I really hate having to drive people places in my car, but not as much as I hate being the passenger in a co-workers car. I just want to drive and be alone with my own thoughts, my own music…it makes me hectic just thinking of doing a long distance car trip with a co-worker.

      1. jmkenrick*

        Ditto. Also, I love flying, but I loathe when the person next to me tries to chat the whole flight through. Headphones are a godsend. (Not as easy to use in the car though.)

  6. yasmara*

    AD, I think you nailed it – this is a problem that needs a suggested solution, otherwise management may say (less bluntly), “find a new job.”

    My husband is traveling for work a LOT lately, but we are hanging in there because we know it is a temporary situation (in this case, a lot means 3 out of 4 weeks in the month of May, plus 2 weeks in June). If this was going to be in his job description indefinitely, he would consider looking for something else.

    I would also recommend thinking about if you really want this job since your responsibilities have changed so much. Maybe it’s no longer a good fit.

    If you need to keep your current position due to financial or other considerations (job market in your area) and your management won’t consider reducing or eliminating travel, I agree with the earlier commenter that maybe it’s time to investigate therapy and/or anxiety medication. Business travel shouldn’t cause you a week’s worth of pre-anxiety!

  7. Charles*

    Wow, I can so relate to this.

    One of only 2 jobs that I ever quit (all others I have been laid off from) was because of travel (the other job I quit was due to not being paid). I was originally hired to be on the road as a trainer just 4 days out of the month – to make a long story short the last 6 months I was there I was on the road everyday except for the last 2 weeks of my 4-week notice.

    So, here’s my advice to add to AAM’s:

    Be prepared for pushback from your manager. I don’t agree with AAM in that they think this isn’t an issue – they might just be hopeful that you (and others) don’t say anything and will continue to travel anyway. (BTW, that’s one thing nice about AAM, she is always seeing the good in people and giving them the benefit of the doubt – I’m way too cynical for that cheary outlook)

    If you negotiate less travel, be polite, but firm when they try to get you to do more. If you don’t do this you could very well be back to where you are now. A lot of “urgent” and “unexpected” things will pop up. (wish I had a nickle of each “unexpected” trip)

    Be prepared to be compared to others; especially, since you are travelling less than them. “well, the others have no problem with travelling, why can’t you pitch in and be more of a team player.” OMG, I heard that so many times I want to puke.

    Lastly, recognize that your meeting with the manager might not have the results that you want. It sounds like the nature of your company and your job have changed without you agreeing to it (actually, you have somewhat agreed since you have already done some travelling for them; I don’t mean to be mean, but, it would have been better to speak up when first requested to travel). You might have to accept the fact that your job has changed and that travel is now a key part of it. So, if that is the case, get your resume ready and look for work elsewhere. This is not what you really want to hear; but it might just be the reality of the situation.

    BTW, I too loved my job and was sorry to go; but, it turned into a life-style that I just wasn’t interested in. (Leaving home on Sunday afternoon and returning after midnight Friday; each night in a different city, I put a copy of my travel itinerary on the hotel nightstand so that when I woke up in the morning I would know what city I was in; looking for a rental car in a parking lot not remembering what color it was, hoping that no one reports the guy wandering around trying a key in several cars to see which one would open; flight delays, cancellations, and missed connections; hotel clerks greeting you by name and you haven’t even checked in yet; they just remember you from all your previous trips. Mon Dieu! what flashbacks!)

    Good luck!

    1. Long Time Admin*

      “looking for a rental car in a parking lot not remembering what color it was…”

      One quick suggestion: take a picture of your rental care with your phone, then delete the pic after you return your car.

  8. KDD*

    My first thought was to contact your EAP (Employee Assistance Program), assuming you have one, so you can talk to a professional about your anxiety. This would be in addition to talking to your boss about the travel. If you have a good relationship with your boss s/he should be sympathetic to your situation. That doesn’t mean that s/he will be able to change it though.

    Good luck!

    1. Vicki*

      Do this. If you have an EAP program, use it (no ,matter what else you do).

      I used the company EAP program when I was having problems with a manager who wanted to change my job responsibilities. The EAP counselor gave me someone to talk things over with and helped keep me on track while I found another manager to work for. Just having an “ear” that wasn’t my spouse’s (already well-bent) was worth So Much.

  9. an anxious lady*

    I’m so sorry – this sounds very stressful.

    It might be worth visiting a professional to discuss the anxiety before going to your boss. You could get some good information about what treatment would entail should things get worse, learn more about anxiety disorders, etc. The information may help give you the vocabulary to explain why travel is such a problem, if you have to delve into the anxiety part of it for your boss.

    After the work discussion, it might be worthwhile to seek help even if you can reduce the traveling. A lot of anxiety issues respond well to a round of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which is a limited number of sessions focused on learning skills to improve a specific problem. Learning how to reduce and manage anxiety, stress, and panic attacks are great tools to have in your mental tool box.

    1. Anonymous*

      I second that. My mother – who would sympathize with the OP – suffered from a terror of flying. On one trip during my childhood, she passed out in the boarding lounge. She saw a psychologist for what sounds like CBT, visualization and relaxation, and nowadays will never enjoy flying, but she is no longer immobilized by fear. Good luck – and also check if you have coverage from your employer.

  10. JLH*

    One thing you might consider is if you have any desire to change your feelings around travel. You say you can’t change it–but odds are that you can, if you want to and are willing to work on it.

    As mentioned, drugs and cognitive behavior therapy (which is not necessarily a limited number of sessions as previously stated) can be helpful, as well as many other types of therapies such as hypnotherapy–not all work for everyone, and generally a combination is the best course to go.

    Best of luck!

  11. Anonymous*

    OP here, thanks for all the comments. While I don’t like to fly the true root of my problem arises from 911. I had a friend who was stuck in Europe for over a week after 911 and my husband had to drive across country to get home. The thought of being a ocean away (unless I jetski LOL) from my family in the case of a similar emergency is the real cause of my anxiety. I’m not sure medication would help that and my travel is all to overseas locations.

    1. AD*

      Yes, medicine can help that. Anxiety is anxiety. Psychotherapy is also an option.

    2. Anonymous*

      Probably someone to talk about fearing being away from the family longer than intentionally planned can help. And there are medications that can help you get over the fear of flight while on board. But I think you should talk to your employer and see how flexible she/he can be if you felt you had to leave for home earlier.

      Also, while this is not the 100% solution, make sure to get a plan with your cell phone that will make international phone calls cheaper (because like stated above, places like China make social media rather difficult) so you can be in touch at a moment’s notice. That might put you at ease a little more so if you have not yet done so already. It’s not the end all solution but at least being able to talk to a loved one might make you feel better.

      I really don’t know what else to offer because I am not in the same category. I love to travel; my work doesn’t have me traveling so it’s all for pleasure. The only time I would be freaked out is if I got stuck in an airport and my visa expires (when you have to get a visa ahead of time you have to put the dates of entry and exit, and I don’t know what would happen if a plane was delayed or what and the visa expired – I don’t need to be detained in any country, but especially one with those restrictions).

    3. Ellie H.*

      I also have anxiety related to travel (but for me, it is more with claustrophobia, fear of not having access to a bathroom, just generally the unpredictable, etc.). I’ve been on anti-anxiety medication before and I think it really can help with that worry. That is an eminently reasonable worry, so I can definitely appreciate how you feel it wouldn’t go away with medication. However the fact is that everyone is concerned about that at some level, but for probably the majority of people, they’re concerned about it in a more moderate way that does not impact their life as adversely – though it is a serious and important thing to be concerned about!

      In sum, medication can often help prevent even a reasonable worry from interfering with your life to what most people would consider an unreasonable extent. Everyone’s different and it would be best to talk to a specialist (doctor or psychiatrist) about your specific situation and whether medication could help it. I would agree that it’s worth bringing up with your manager first, though!

    4. Emily*

      My heart goes out to you, OP! I actually want to travel more often, whether on work trips or on personal adventures. While I don’t have an anxiety, fear, or even a major “dislike” that’s specific to travelling, the stress of planning/planning for and making a trip takes an extreme toll on me. I have an anxiety disorder and I think traveling just amplifies the symptoms—physical tension, sleeplessness, inability to make the simplest decisions, and the almost instinctive urge to draw in on myself—to the point where it’s very difficult to take pleasure even in vacations! My co-workers of five years think I flat out don’t like to travel and I regretfully admit that my mood and demeanor during our first few business trips together likely gave them that impression, and I haven’t yet been able to convince them otherwise.

      I have been working on becoming a better traveler, and from what you wrote, I think some things that have helped me might help you. One is sleeping—I’d have a hard time sleeping as soon as I find out about a trip, for a week leading up to it, and then during it. Sometimes I’d get insomnia just from anticipating the insomnia. For me, sleeplessness is probably 40% of the problem! It’s frustrating and exhausting and it makes me way more vulnerable to other stressors. There are many, many ways to manage insomnia—don’t put yourself through another sleepless night without looking for one (or more) that works for you!

      I didn’t have a lot of travel experience before I started my job. I needed practice, but after my first couple of trips, all I’d taken away was the realization that travel amped up my anxiety. That snowballed into a whole new layer of nerves and worries going into the next trip, every time. It might sound kooky, but I started visualizing or “rehearsing” travel scenarios from time to time, even when I didn’t have a particular trip coming up. It sounds like you’ve been getting plenty of real-life practice, but if you’re used to the whole experience feeling terrible, reinforcing those feelings can only compound them. Mentally rehearsing a manageable travel experience might break the habit, so to speak, and allow you to reshape your feelings, at least to a point where they don’t seem insurmountable.

      Missing my family and homesickness is also a major factor for me. I’d go away for a few days—from my own apartment where I live on my own in a different city than any of my immediate family members, mind you—and I’d get desperately homesick for my childhood home. Sometimes it took a trip to visit my parents after a business trip to set me back to rights! This is one area where talking to a therapist about my anxieties, identifying and addressing them made a big difference. Coming to some degree of resolution about your anxieties could bring you relief in this situation, and more broadly, as well.

    5. Malissa*

      One thing that might ease your anxiety is a good travel insurance policy. They’ll find you a way to get home. Given how much you have to travel for work I’d definitely ask the boss to consider this for all employees.

  12. Jaime*

    Op, also be prepared for your boss to be a bit skeptical about the level of anxiety you feel since you’ve been “successfully” dealing with the travel so far and for quite some time. This may mean they’re less willing to work with you on alternate solutions, though not necessarily. It’s not as though anxieties can’t change and grow over time, but it’s something to keep in mind. (assuming you tell them that it’s due to the anxiety you feel)

  13. Harry*

    Lots of details in the OP.

    -OP is getting favorable performance reviews and has no mention about negative remarks about the manager. I think the manager will be open to discussion.
    -OP enjoys the job minus the traveling. One way to alleviate the suffering is to manage what you can about the trip. There is a tone in the e-mail that hints of the negativity of being in China. There are many wonderful things about China and some would love to switch place with the OP.
    -See if you could travel with another engineer and shorten the trip. If money is not an issue of course.
    -Not sure how the planning works but try to stretch out the intervals when you must travel.
    -Make a strong push to travel at a higher class air than what you are traveling now. I travel business on my business trips but if I could go first class, I think I can go anywhere!

    1. Rose*

      Ugh, trust me, the manufacturing parts of China are not fun. Factories in the middle of nowhere, bathrooms that are just a “stream”, meetings with 8 people chain-smoking, bad food, and dealing with local staff. Not to scare the OP, but I would definitely add this to the list of reasons not to travel. And if they try to make you fly economy or United….yikes, no way.
      Maybe you could propose this as China-specific for the reasons stated above. Trust me, you don’t want to go if you have any sort of health conditions.

      Now Shanghai, Guilin, Kunming….heck yeah! Beautiful places. But unlikely the OP will go unless its on the weekends outside of work :(

  14. Yuu*

    You might want to talk first with the other travelling scientists to see who enjoys travelling and who doesn’t before you approach your boss. If someone else would like to travel more, they might be interested in specializing in implementation.

    It sounds like the part you like the least is the flying part – so personally, I would mention that. Maybe they could switch you to implementing stuff that is in driving distance, and for longer but more infrequent trips. (Wouldn’t it be better to do 2 trips of 3 weeks long rather than 6 trips of 3 days long, for you?)

    I totally understand the dread of travelling. For the longest time the only time I left my house spotless was when I travelled, just in case someone else had to go to clear it out. But there is still a lot of wonderful things you can see and do when you travel – so try to focus on all the things you can only do when you go to these places.

  15. Anonymous*

    I with you OP. I hate traveling (for no reason of course). Just the fact that I am a “home” person. I do agree with AAM though.

  16. Cathy*

    I have a deeper question on this subject. If you accept and work a job that DOESN’T require traveling, and then one day the manager decides he needs you to travel, can he unilaterally require you to start traveling? Are there any laws that prohibit the addition of travel? Does the job fall into a difference competitive level? Should the job pay more if travel is required? If there are multiple employees can the manager pick who travels and who doesn’t? Are there any rules that say manager must ask for volunteers first? Would appreciate hearing from some of you HR folks out there or someone who’s been involved in questioning the unilateral decision to start requiring travel by a manager. Help!!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      No laws govern whether or not an employer can require travel. You should certainly talk to them and explain you strongly don’t want to travel, but it’s legal for them to require it as part of the job (unless you have a written contract stating otherwise, but that would be unusual).

    2. Vicki*

      Standard response:
      1) Pretty much everything is legal.
      2) You can always say no.
      3) whether or not saying “no” means you get fired, laid off, or start looking for another job depends on you, your manager, the company, and how you say “no”

      If it were me, I’d start with “no”.

  17. Steve*

    My wife is due with our second child in less than a month. At work, a new prospective client is asking us to come onsite (across the country) for 4 days to do a gap analysis to refine scope for a million dollar project and it has to be completed within one month from today. I am the only person that is qualified to do this at work.

    Our first child came 10 days early; my wife is supposed to be resting which is hard to do to begin with when we have a almost 2 year old at home and I work full time. I want to be home to help my wife and daughter and I wouldn’t forgive myself if I missed my second daughter’s birth, but its my job to handle this at work.

    If I even mention to my wife to get her opinion I know she will get upset due to hormones and go into a week long funk. So I feel like I need to work this out on my own. I know my boss will support me if the client will agree to do the meetings through the web (no travel), but if the client doesn’t, he will expect me to go.

    Is it wrong if it gets to that point to use this as leverage at work to get a significant raise? My wife never went back to work after our first child and we could use the money, especially with the new one on the way. If I let her know that this one trip will mean she doesn’t have to worry about going back to work anytime soon, I think she will ultimately accept it and then I would try to go on the trip as soon as possible to be back in time for the new baby.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I don’t think it’s wrong, no. But if it doesn’t work, then you’re probably stuck going on the trip … whereas if you’re firm about the fact that you can’t travel this month because your wife is about to have a baby, period, you can probably hold firm on that.

  18. Giorgio*

    Hi ! do you want to trade jobs with me? i love to travel and not being stock in a office all day! :)

  19. Corey VanDyke*

    I have become afraid of flying as of late amoung other fears. I am seeing a therapist about all of my anxieties. I talked with my work and basically they said have my therapist write up a list of potential accomodations and they will either see if they will work or replace me at my job. Kind of leaves me with know where to go at this point.

  20. Sandy*

    I have decided to use “I don’t fly” as my answer to the “what is your weakness” question in job interviews. Kills two birds with one stone, so to speak.

  21. Mike*

    I had a bad panic attack on a business trip. My manager was indifferent and tried sending me again, I skipped work and they were upset. I talked to HR the next day and was told that I couldn’t be forced to travel, I felt really bad and started seeing a therapist. I was diagnosed with PTSD and put on medication. The problem has gotten better as I worked on it, I don’t know if it will ever be totally fixed but I do have a way to manage it now.

  22. BigDoginTexas*

    Lots of input and comments, all good but overall it continues to place the responsibility back on the person who does not want to travel to find a way to stay employed, and in good graces.

    One type of travel when you would otherwise have no concerns, is being requested to travel to a place with extreme personal safety and health risks, or should I say “certainties” – when it is not a matter of “if” but “how severe”.

    Unless you signed up for a position that this is WELL understood upfront, then you are well within your rights to decline the request. Some hardships of being away from “home” is always a given, but being placed directly in harms way, where your life and health is being placed behind someone else’s profit margin is unconscionable and letting the requester know this may help them decide a better course of action. One action may be have people in the danger zone travel to you in the safety zone instead of the other way around.

    Most often the “guilt” feelings are being placed only by the requested party, by the requested party – most management is protective of their staff and most often very willing to make accommodations or alternatives – if not then you really must consider if you want to continue working in that environment where every day thereafter is just waiting on the next shoe to fall.

    A direct – NO thank you without a mountain of explanations but at least some high level reasoning is most often taken well. Again if you think you are not being perceived as a ‘team player’ – whatever that is supposed to be – then do you really want to be on that team?

    A company pays for your skills, time, and productivity – they do not own you and can not place you in harms way.

  23. bobby*

    Line up another job first, then kindly put in your notice. BUT REMEMBER THIS JOBS ARE SCARCE (good jobs, unless you have a GOOD trade) in America right now. If you’re only gone a week at a time, MAN up. Many American’s have to be gone longer and in much more worse conditions. Put your “big girl panties” on and deal with it. Personally I would love for my job to ask me to go overseas for only one week of the month. One week away from the kids and wife wouldn’t be all that bad.PLUS it allows your family to appreciate you even more when you’re gone.

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